Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Motown the Musical"

So, today we said "to hell with the NFL" and decided to try to see "Motown the Musical" at Heinz Hall.  Trouble was, the show was sold out, so that led me take a bold step into the 21st century: Stub Hub.  Yes, I finally heeded the advice of numerous friends and finally made this foray into legalized ticket scalping, or free-market capitalism, depending on how you look at it.

We were able to purchase two seats about two hours before curtain time, print them out at home, and headed on down to the Cultural District.  Oh yeah, we paid way more than face value for the tickets, but in the end, it was worth it, because it was a terrific and entertaining show.

The show tells the story of Berry Gordy, Jr. and the founding of Motown Records.  The show featured actors playing the parts of Motown's greatest stars and it also included some of the greatest music of that generation.  Among others portrayed in the show were Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Jackson Five, Jackie Wilson, Mary Wells, and Marvin Gaye.

Do I have to actually tell you who these people are and what their greatest songs were (and still are)?  If so, then you probably stopped reading this post after the first paragraph, or never even opened it to begin with.  So I'll only list a few of the songs featured in this show today: "My Girl", "Where Did Our Love Go", "I Want You Back", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", "What's Goin' On", and "My Guy".  Get the idea of how great this show was?  Oh, and there was terrific ballad at the end called "Can I Close The Door" that Gordy wrote especially for this show.

It was a rousing, big-energy show with a relatively small cast.  In fact, at the curtain call, we were surprised at how few people comprised the ensemble - probably fewer than two dozen - with many of them playing multiple characters in the show. The lead "characters" in the show were Gordy, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, and a young man who played a young Michael Jackson.  I suppose that you would have to be a real theatrical nerd to know any of the actors in this show, but man, were they talented, and, of course, when you look at their biographies in the Playbill, they all have credits a mile long.   Special props go out to Julius Thomas III who played Berry Gordy.

Berry Gordy, Jr., by the way, is now 85 years old.  

He wrote the book for this musical  and produced it on Broadway.  His accomplishments in the recording and entertainment industry are too numerous to list.  I am glad that he also conceived "Motown the Musical" as a way for future generations to enjoy this music and story for years to come.

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